Living up to all the hype and capturing his fifth straight race, California Chrome pulled away down the stretch to win the 140th Kentucky Derby Saturday at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
Dubbed the favorite for weeks and ending the betting day at 2-1 odds, the California-bred, three-year-old colt erased a slightly slow start out of the gate by sticking with the early lead-pack and jockey Victor Espinoza saved the thoroughbred’s surge for the final turn.
Finishing with a time of 2:03.66, it was the second Derby win for Espinoza, and his first since riding War Emblem in 2002.
Trainer Art Sherman, 77, became the oldest trainer to even win the Derby and owners Steve and Carolyn Coburn and Perry and Denise Martin picked up the $2 million purse.
California Chrome had never won a race outside of his home state before Saturday, and his only drawback was a bloodline that didn’t include a stakes winner like fellow competitors Wicked Strong and Danza.
Danza would finish third after Commanding Curve, a 35-1 longshot, came in second with a push on the outside in the final few furlongs.
Bred for a mere $10,000, California Chrome became the 10 th thoroughbred since 1979 to take the Derby with more than 10 career starts prior to the first leg of the Triple Crown. He’s also the fourth California-bred horse to win the Derby, and the first since Decidely in 1962.
“I think we get along together very well,” Espinoza said after the race. “He’s just an impressive horse, an amazing horse.”